Domestic medical device-makers ask consumer affairs ministry to step-up surveillance at ports

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on June 25, 2020 Published on June 25, 2020

Plug the loophole of imported products being passed-off as ‘Made in India’

A forum of Indian medical device-makers has written to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to step-up their cargo surveillance at ports, rather than inspect products at the retail level.

Coming at a time of increased scrutiny of products from China in the wake of the border standoff between the two countries, the letter points out that screening at the ports would ensure that fly-by-night traders don’t label their products and prices after the finished goods are cleared for sale in the country.

“The Department of Consumer Affairs has (a) provision to label devices with MRP (maximum retail price) and Country of Origin but unlike drugs where CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation) has a Port Officer at each port to assist customs in clearance, there is no provision of Dept of Consumer Affairs to inspect cargo at point of imports,” said the letter from the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD).

Rajiv Nath, AiMeD spokesperson told BusinessLine that some traders bring in components from China but label it finally as a ‘Made in India’ product. “In some cases, the products do not mention the MRP, leaving the price open-ended for the hospital that buys it from the distributor and sells to a patient,” he pointed out.

“Instead of a large army of inspectors at retail (and they miss to inspect hospital stores), it’s better to inspect the cargo at point of import physically or by seeking photo of the label,” the letter said.

The electronic bill of entry should record the MRP in addition to CIF price and country of origin on the label of the consumer goods. This will be a big deterrent to unethical traders and pseudo manufacturers who add high MRP or a Make in India label, after the goods have cleared by customs.

“This enforcement can help Make in India and protect consumers,” the letter said.

Nath says it is difficult to stop imports from China, given the high dependence across sectors. But in medical technology, a clear definition on procurement of locally sourced content can help build in self-reliance, he said.

Pharma awaiting clarity

Many multinational and local drug companies did not want to comment on the issue, given its politically sensitive nature. A producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) said there was a delay in clearances across ports in the last few days. Industry representatives point to unconfirmed reports of concern over narcotic products making their way into the country.

With India relying on China for over 60 per cent of APIs, an industry-hand said that delays at the port need to be addressed before it impacted medicine supplies. Already, the industry was faced with an increase in API prices and was approaching the government for permission to increase prices of drugs in India, he added. Representatives from the domestic and multinational sides of the pharma industry said they would wait for clarity from the government if more details were required on locally-sourced content, etc, on their labels.

Published on June 25, 2020
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